This page provides an outline to some of the TV documentaries that look at military organisations and warfare in the 20th Century, 1902 to 1999.

World War One Documentaries
Title First Aired Season(s) (Episodes) Synopsis
The First World War 2003 1 (10) A Channel 4 TV series based on the book of the same name by Oxford Professor Hew Strachan.
Between the Wars: 1918 to 1941 1978 1 (16) Explores the political and diplomatic events and crises between World War I and World War II.
Tsar to Lenin: The Definitive Film Record of the 1917 Russian Revolution 1937 (1) This extraordinary documentary was the product of a complex and contentious collaboration between Max Eastman (1883-1969), the famed American radical and socialist, and Herman Axelbank (1900-1979), a Russian-born immigrant who assembled the greatest cinematic record of a seminal event in world history.
WWI: The First Modern War 2014 1 (4)
  • This is the epic story of how The First World War changed the face of battle forever.
  • This War was a war of “firsts”, a transitional war from old style hand-to-hand combat with small guns and fixed bayonets and cavalry charges to high tech weaponry that are still features of present-day armed conflicts. “Firsts” include aerial bombardment of cities, epic tank battles, fight for control of the skies, development of submarines, chemical and bunker warfare.
World War I: The Complete Story 1964 1 (26)
  • The most comprehensive World War 1 documentary series ever made recalls the causes conduct, and aftermath of “The War to End All Wars”.
  • Along with the social, political, and economic fabric of the times, the roles of key figures are analyzed in depth.
  • Produced during the Golden Age of CBS TV documentaries, this series, narrated by Robert Ryan, contains some of the highest quality World War 1 footage known to exist.
The War That Changed The World 2015 1 (12) One hundred years ago the First World War set the course for the modern world: for the countries that took part nothing would be the same again.
The War That Changed Us 2014 1 (4) The story of Australia and the First World War is revealed through the lives of six Australians. Brought to life through personal testimony, dramatic reconstruction, expert analysis, location filming and colourised archive.
America’s Great War 2017 1 (1) 1917. In Europe, the First World War has been raging for three long years. During this last year of conflict, the USA enter the war, sending a substantial contingent to fight alongside the exhausted French and English troops.
These 2 million American soldiers, nicknamed the Sammies (sent by Uncle Sam), do not really know why they are there, nor for how long. Nonetheless, they will prove to be the undisputed artisans of Allied victory. At the same time, they will hoist their country to the rank of world’s leading military and economic power…
Australian War Horse 2016 1 (1) Over 130,000 Australian horses served in the 1914-1918 war. Only one came home. Known as Walers, they were a special kind of horse as they could withstand great heat, travel great distances and perform great feats in battle. This is their story.
The Somme 1916 – From Both Sides of the Wire 2016 1 (3) Historian Peter Barton explores the events leading up to and on the notoriously bloody first day of the offensive. Walking the battlefield, he explains the failures that led to over 20,000 British deaths. Barton argues that to get a better understanding of events, you should not only confront what the British did badly but what their enemy did better.

The Germans were able to skilfully use the landscape of the Somme to maximise casualties amongst their enemy. And based on research in German archives, Barton shows just how much they knew in advance about Allied plans through captured documents and interrogations of captured British prisoners and deserters who were persistently ‘spilling the beans’.

World War Two Documentaries
Title First Aired Season(s) (Episodes) Synopsis
ANZACS: Australians at War in World War Two 1961 1 (26)
  • Created in the memory of “ANZAC”, some of the most heroic, touching, memorable, heart wrenching and just plain amazing war pictures you’ll ever see are captured on this historically significant documentary series.
  • Produced in 1961 using film shot by official war photographers provided by the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, this 26 part series covers every major campaign the Australian troops were involved in during the war years – 1939 to 1945.
  • Introduced by former World War Two pilot, Bud Tingwell, “ANZAC” provides us with more than just a record of Australia’s role in the Second World War.
  • It leaves us with a legacy of images portraying the terrible realities of life and death on the front line.
Hitler’s Bodyguard 2008 1 (13) A documentary series, produced by the Military Channel, that looks at those who protected Adolf Hitler.
Nazi Collaborators 2010 1 (13)
  • This documentary explores the fascinating and often shocking tales of how individuals from all walks of life: the privileged; the political elite; ordinary working men; turned against their nations and races to fight alongside the Nazis during World War 2.
  • Many did it for financial gain, others for the promise of elevated status. Some believed that siding with imperialist Germans offered the best chance of survival for their people, whilst others later claim they would be killed if they refused.
  • From the Jewish leader who offered up his people as free labour, to the ex French Prime Minister who actively aided the Nazi hunt for the Resistance. And from the IRA-German plot to usurp control of Northern Ireland to the brutal killing squads of Lithuania, this ground-breaking series explores the complex motivations behind the controversial paths these collaborators chose.
Liberators: The Soldiers of the Red Army 2010 1 (12)
  • From foot soldiers to fighter pilots, step into the shoes of those who fought for one of the largest armies in history.
  • This series highlights ordinary foot soldiers, intelligence officers, mine pickers, gunners, tank men, marines, alpine and airborne raiders and fighter and attack aviation pilots whose role in the Allied victory over the Nazis played a crucial part in the war effort.
  • Using the latest computer graphics and technology, viewers witness the combat equipment design, tactics and strategy of conducting a battle.
  • Rare newsreel shots and the reconstruction of the events allow viewers to feel they are being transported back to the battleground, allowing them to see war through a soldier’s eyes.
The War Machines of World War II 2007 1 (20) Features the war machines of the US and German nations during the Second World War.
Scorched Earth: The Wehrmacht in Russia 1999 1 (3)
  • When Hitler ordered the invasion of the Soviet Union, his forces were divided into three separate theatres or groups, each responsible for different objectives. Each operated semi-independently and faced unique challenges within the vast territory of the Russian interior.
  • Primarily based on German combat footage, each episode is a broad portrait of the objectives, campaigns, and eventual fates of these separate commands during the largest and most destructive land campaign ever launched.
  • This documentary follows the travails of Army Group Centre, the group tasked with the capture of Moscow.
  • Barely turned aside during bitter winter fighting, this Group came closest to winning the war with Soviet Russia.
  • Later, the collapse of Army Group Centre during the Soviet Operation Bagration, would lead to the collapse of Nazi Germany and the triumphant entry of Soviet forces into Berlin.
The World At War 1973 1 (26) A landmark documentary series which gives a historical account of the events of the Second War World.
World War II in HD Colour 2009 1 (13) New insights and information into World War II.
Die Deutschen Panzer, No.3, Panzer IV 1993 1 (8) A documentary series focusing on the German motorised artillery of World War Two.
Stalin: Man of Steel 2004 (1)
  • Perhaps no figure in Russian history is better known than Joseph Stalin. A highly controversial character, Stalin was a member of the powerful ‘Big Three’ during World War II as Russia played a major role in repelling the Nazi invasion of Europe.
  • As leader of Russia his policies had a drastic impact on the people he ruled and almost 60 years after his death attitudes towards him in Russia are mixed; some view Stalin as a tyrant whose policies caused the death of millions, while others regard him as a capable leader.
  • But what was Stalin really like and what was his legacy to Russia?
  • This fascinating collection of programmes, produced by Russian Television, provides a remarkable insight into his life.
  • Hear from Stalin’s granddaughter about what he was like in private, learn the story of Stalin’s particularly troubled upbringing, discover the influential role he played in the development of the infamous Soviet film industry and hear the truth behind the plots to take his life, including the German reconnaissance mission of 1944.
The Story of Hitler’s Secret Police 1933-1945: Gestapo ? (1)
  • The Gestapo, abbreviation of Geheime Staatspolizei, or the Secret State Police, was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe.
  • The force was created by Hermann Göring in 1933 by combining the executive and the judicial branches into one power. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of SS national leader Heinrich Himmler, who in 1936 was appointed Chief of German Police (Chef der Deutschen Polizei) by Hitler.
  • In 1936, Himmler made it a suboffice of the Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo) or ‘Security Police’.
  • Then from 27 September 1939 forward, it was administered by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA), or ‘Reich Main Security Office’, and was considered a sister organisation of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) or ‘Security Service’.
The Superior Force: Great Tank Battles of WWII 1998 (1)
  • This second volume of the series chronicling the history of tank warfare in World War Two features the models used in Germany’s 1941 ‘Operation Barbarossa’ – the invasion of the Soviet Union.
  • Panzers were deployed in battles at Bialystok and Minsk to encircle Soviet troops before moving on to Moscow, taking 300,000 prisoners along the way and capturing the city of Kiev.
  • However, the operation to take Moscow was halted due to the Soviet T-34 tank, which held the Germans at bay twenty miles short of their target.
Drain the Ocean: WWII 2009 ? What lies beneath the ocean? As the ocean waters drain away, National Geographic reveal seven of the most amazing undersea sites of World War 2 and delve deeper into the mysteries behind them.
Hell in the Pacific 2001 1 (4) The story of the battles in the Pacific between the United States and Imperial Japan during World War II, as told from the perspective of the Japanese who fought it.
WWII: Countdown to Victory 2009 1 (24) A 24-part documentary series chronologically charting the key events of World War II, using archive footage to tell the story.
Nazi Megastructures 2004 1 (6), 2 (6) Documentary series charting how the Nazis built some of the biggest and deadliest pieces of military hardware in history and uncovering the hidden remains of Hitler’s most ambitious mega structures.
Battle Stations 2000 1 (40) A documentary series which uses archive footage, re-enactments and first-hand accounts from the crews, to follow the machines and technology implemented from the Second World War to the Gulf War in the land, air and sea.
WWII: The Forgotten Ally 2017 1 (1) This groundbreaking documentary uncovers how World War II actually began on 7 July 1937, in China. In time for the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the war – 7 July 2017 – the film tells the untold story of the brutal Pacific War which lasted from 1937-45 and cost 14 million Chinese lives.

When Germany began Europe’s WWII by invading Poland in 1939, China had already been fighting Imperial Japan for two years. China’s long resistance, alongside its USA and British allies, was crucial to the defeat of the Axis powers.

For the first time on this scale, the film uncovers the epic struggle between China and Japan and its lasting effects in China and beyond. Few survivors of the war remain, but those that do tell of brutal fighting, new alliances, and how the war continues to shape modern China, today.

Based on the acclaimed book, ‘Forgotten Ally’ by renowned China expert Rana Mitter, the film combines eye witness testimony with rare archive footage and stunning animated reconstructions.

From the Japanese invasion in 1937 and the ‘Rape of Nanjing’, to the attack on Pearl Harbor and American alliance, and the battle of Yunnan-Burma Road alongside the British, this is an emotional, eye-opening journey that re-writes history as we know it…

Churchill’s German Army 2009 1 (1) The bravery of our home-grown heroes during the Second World War is well documented, but less is known about those who fled Nazi-occupied Europe to take up the Allied cause. Over the course of the conflict, thousands of Germans and Austrians fled Nazi persecution and joined British forces to fight against Hitler. Now, this extraordinary band of brothers tell their stories in full for the first time, and how together they became Churchill’s German Army. Churchill’s German Army : Who were they? Millions of soldiers fought against Hitler’s Germany in WW2, but one group of men and women sacrificed everything in the battle against the Nazis. They knew they could be tortured and executed as traitors if captured but were still willing to die for their adopted country. Hear from the only known German fighter pilot in the RAF, a tank driver originally from Bonn who survived the Dachau concentration camp yet was among the first Allied troops to capture Hamburg, and the veteran who shot the infamous Lord Haw Haw in the buttocks. They were described as ‘suicide soldiers’ because of their German nationality and the fact that many of them were Jewish meant they would face torture and execution if they were ever captured. Yet all of them were volunteers – not conscripts like the majority of British forces. Over the decades that followed, they became so deeply assimilated into society that they became as British as the Brits. Churchill’s German Army : How many Germans and Austrians fought against the Nazis? As many as 10,000 Germans and Austrians fled Nazi persecution and joined British forces to fight against Hitler. Neighbours, colleagues and fellow soldiers all suspected they were traitors and double agents, so life in their adopted communities was hellish, and they had to fight doubly hard to prove their dedication to the war effort. But facing these challenges, these incredible volunteers played a key part in some of the most important events of the war. Featuring moving personal testimonies, Churchill’s German Army tells the compelling stories of these extraordinary heroes for the first time.
Japan’s Secret Weapon ?2017 1 (1) Find out why one of the most powerful tools of the Second World War was never used.

One of the best-kept secrets of the Second World War was a huge aircraft-carrying submarine designed to deliver Japanese bombers to within a few hundred kilometres of American cities.

Engineers and historians conduct experiments and demonstrations to reveal the secrets behind a technological marvel that could have changed the course of the war.

Plus, archive footage shows what made the I-400 subs so deadly: the three state-of-the-art attack bombers it could carry anywhere in the world. But why was the technology never used in an attack on the US?

Nazi Attack on America 2015 1 (1) A sunken German U-boat off the coast of New Orleans tells the story of Operation Drumbeat.

Long before 9/11, a far deadlier, little-known attack from the ocean depths struck our shores, lasting three-and-a-half years and claiming 5,000 lives. Now, famed undersea explorer Bob Ballard, discoverer of the Titanic, investigates the wreck of one of the attack craft, a German submarine that lies at the bottom of the gulf just a few miles off New Orleans. U-166 was part of Operation Drumbeat, a highly successful U-boat operation that caught East Coast cities and shipping almost completely unprepared. With state-of-the-art survey gear Ballard probes the wreck and explores a dramatic mystery in the official story of the sub’s sinking.

Korean War Documentaries
Title First Aired Season(s) (Episodes) Synopsis
Korean War in Colour 2001 (1)
  • Korean War in Colour documents war-torn Korea the way the soldiers saw it-in full, shocking colour. This digitally mastered DVD presents a true picture of war-full of terror, chaos, blood and courage.
  • Many of the images included here have never been seen by the general public before, having been kept top secret for decades by military officials for fear of a public backlash.
Korea: The Forgotten War 2010 (1) The complete story of the Cold War’s first bloody and brutal conflict pitting East against West!
The Korean War: Fire & Ice 2010 (2)
  • The Korean War was a war of firsts: The first jet war; the first war where it was not possible to unleash full power, politically or militarily, and the first battlefield of the Cold War.
  • Lasting three years, it took more than 2,000,000 military and civilian lives in its bloody wake. Setting all the rules for East/West conflict during the nuclear age brought an unknowing world closer to an all-out atomic war than has ever been told.
  • Historians, battle veterans and archival footage reveal the pain, glory, and pathos of the war.
The Suez Crisis Documentaries
Title First Aired Season(s) (Episodes) Synopsis
Suez Crisis Lecture 2015 (1) Professor Vernon Bogdanor delivers a lecture on the 1956 Suez crisis at the Museum of London and shown on the BBC.
Suez: A Very British Crisis 2006 (1)
  • The Suez crisis in the 1950s signalled the end of Britain’s history as a power that could act alone on the world stage.
  • This BBC Two series tells the story of Suez using dramatic reconstructions and interviews with participants and witnesses to the crisis.
The Other Side of Suez 2006 (1)
  • A look at how Britain embarked on an unpopular war against an Arab nation, which critics claimed was based on a lie, and which brought disgrace to the Prime Minister of the day. Sounds familiar?
  • This documentary examines the events of Suez 1956 through interviews with many of the Egyptian politicians, soldiers and civilians who were involved – some speaking on British television for the first time.
  • From dodgy intelligence dossiers to unexpected resistance from local people; from outraged public opinion to the collapse of a once popular prime minister’s reputation,
  • The Other Side of Suez is a timely reminder to politicians about the dangers of failing to learn the lessons of history.
Vietnam War Documentaries
Title First Aired Season(s) (Episodes) Synopsis
The Ten Thousand Day War 1980 1 (13)
  • Known as history s first ‘living room war,’
  • The documentary covers the entire conflict, examining the shifting attitudes of the US toward Vietnam from 1945, when the battleground was known as French Indochina, to 1975, when Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese.
Vietnam in HD 2011 (1)

Their story is in danger of being lost to history. The men who came home from the Vietnam War represent a second silent generation.These are the men who won every battle in a lost war.

Inside the Vietnam War 2008 B3
  • National Geographic provides a fresh, in-depth look at the Vietnam War.
  • Firsthand accounts from Vietnam veterans are woven together with archival footage and photographs, to reveal the details of covert operations, military strategy and the emotional toll.
Afghanistan Documentaries
Title First Aired Season(s) (Episodes) Synopsis
Afghanistan 1979: The War That Changed The World 2015 (1)
  • In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan with what it called a “limited contingent” of troops. It was the start of the final conflict of the Cold War, one that would last 10 years, play a key role in the collapse of the USSR, and provide the platform from which Osama bin Laden would launch Al Qaeda.
  • This documentary focuses on these events from the side of the invading Soviets. The film features former leader Mikhail Gorbachev, speaking publicly on the invasion for the first time, as well as Afghan, Russian, and American generals, journalists, intelligence analysts, and resistance leaders.
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